Quest Vitamins' probiotic encapsulation hankers for 'clean label' claims

By Nicola Cottam

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Stomach Digestive system

Plant-based capsules appeal to consumers who prefer supplements from vegetarian sources without solvents, according to Quest Vitamins.
Plant-based capsules appeal to consumers who prefer supplements from vegetarian sources without solvents, according to Quest Vitamins.
UK-based Quest Vitamins says its plant-based probiotic encapsulation, DRcaps Capsules, taps into consumer interest in ‘clean label’. 

The latest ‘​clean-label’ probiotic supplements from the firm will be encapsulated with DRcaps Capsules, developed by US firm Capsugel, to underpin the products’ natural credentials, it said. 

Probiotic supplements are acid-sensitive and encapsulation is necessary to prevent early release in the acid environment of the stomach. This usually takes the form of a protective coating to ensure absorption in the small intestine to maximise the health benefits. 

“Delivering acid-sensitive supplement products can be a challenge for health and nutrition companies,” ​said Capsugel global business development director, Peter Zambetti. 

“However the formulation in DRcaps can help protect sensitive ingredients from the low pH environment of the stomach, protecting ingredients from early disintegration.” 

Enhanced stability​ 

DRcaps capules are made using a plant-based hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC) polymer making them acid resistant without the need for film coatings, which can have variable moisture levels. 

This can render capsules brittle and lead to early activation of the active ingredient. 

The moisture content of 4% to 6% in 50% relative humidity, low moisture DRcaps capsules inherently enhance stability for moisture-sensitive probiotics and increase shelf-life. 

A clinical study carried out to evaluate the ‘disintegration behaviour’ of DRcaps capsules observed disintegration 52 minutes after ingestion and for the majority of subjects complete release took place in the small intestine 20 minutes after the initial release was recorded, the company said. 

Probiotics sold in dietary supplements are, in general, lyophilised (freeze-dried). This lyophilisation is needed to take out the water from the probiotic cell preventing it from growing and decreasing its shelf life,” ​Zambetti said. 

“Once ingested, the lyophilized probiotic will absorb the humidity and develop its capacity to grow. If this phase is achieved in an acidic media the probiotic capacity to create colonies is reduced due to the presence of acids.”

Sensory and cost advantages

Furthermore the application of conventional coatings involved chemicals and solvents which were expensive and may not be perceived by consumers as 'natural'. 

“Conventional film coatings for acid-resistance involve costly manufacturing processes that are complex and may lead to waste, delays and yield loss. Additionally, consumers who prefer supplements from vegetarian sources without solvents and other unnatural ingredients are also satisfied.”​ 

DRcaps also mask the taste and odour of nutritional ingredients and prevent 'gastric reflux' (burping) of ingredients such as omega-3 oils and herbal extracts like garlic caused by immediate release in the stomach, the company claimed. 

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